In Brief

Jeremy Corbyn is a 'disaster', says Stephen Hawking

World-renowned physicist calls for Labour Leader to step down 'for the sake of the party'

Labour leader crisis: Can 60,000 new members save Jeremy Corbyn?

1 July

More than 60,000 people have joined the Labour Party following last week's Brexit vote and a plot by MPs to overthrow leader Jeremy Corbyn. 

Three-quarters of the parliamentary party supported a motion of no confidence against the leader earlier this week, although this was non-binding and Corbyn has so far refused to quit.

Former shadow business secretary Angela Eagle had been expected to launch a campaign to run as an alternative leader yesterday afternoon, but postponed her announcement to give Corbyn more time to consider his position.

In the last seven days, Labour has seen "one of the fastest increases in membership of any British political party in history", says The Independent. Total membership is now at around 450,000, higher than its last peak of 440,000, seen under Tony Blair in 1997.

However, it is difficult to tell if they have joined to head off the plot to remove Corbyn or to give it their backing.

The left-wing group supporting Corbyn, Momentum, has been staging rallies and using phone banks to garner support and claims thousands of new members marked their membership forms with support for the leader.

But one insider said thousands had joined to remove Corbyn instead.

A Times/YouGov poll, carried out after last week's EU referendum, found 36 per cent of Labour members would definitely vote for Corbyn should he appear on the ballot paper again, a drop from 50 per cent in May.

Meanwhile, the Labour leader is under fire again after giving a speech at the launch of the party's inquiry into anti-Semitism yesterday.

"Our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organisations," he said.

His words have been criticised as apparently comparing Israel and the terrorist group, Islamic State, something Corbyn has denied.

Chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis said the comments were offensive "however they were intended" and that "rather than rebuilding trust among the Jewish community, they are likely to cause even greater concern".

The chair of the anti-Semitism inquiry, Shami Chakrabarti, a former director of Liberty, put the criticism down to "spin". 

"His point was: when you have Jewish neighbours or friends, or Muslim neighbours or friends and something bad happens in the world, don't ask them to be the first to explain or defend or condemn," she told LBC. "It's not their fault. They are feeling just as bad as you."

Labour leadership crisis: Can Angela Eagle oust Jeremy Corbyn?

30 June

Angela Eagle is preparing to launch a bid to become the leader of the Labour Party today, despite Jeremy Corbyn refusing to stand down from the role.

The Labour chief is under increasing pressure to quit. Yesterday, his deputy, Tom Watson, became the most senior figure to call on him to resign.

Speaking to the BBC, Watson called the leadership crisis "a great tragedy" and reiterated that Corbyn no longer has the confidence of Labour MPs.

"He does have a members' mandate, but those members who join a political party know that you also need a parliamentary mandate if you are to form a government," he said. "You have to have the authority of the members and your members of parliament and I'm afraid he doesn’t have that with our MPs."

It looked as if the party was "heading for some kind of contested election", he added.

Eagle, the MP for Wallasey, is seen as a "unity candidate", says George Eaton at the New Statesman, quoting a source as saying she is "very much considered a tough, Angela Merkel-type figure who can lead the party through this difficult period".

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Labour strategist John McTernan says Eagle, aside from having intelligence, passion and authenticity, also proved herself to be "swashbuckling and funny" when standing in for Corbyn at PMQs.

"Eagle is comfortable in her skin and can speak persuasively to all types of voters – from the Northern working classes to the Shoreditch hipster," he says. "She would be just what Labour needs."

A spokesman for Corbyn has told reporters he would stand for the leadership if he is challenged, but his candidacy might face another hurdle.

"There has been speculation about whether Mr Corbyn would have the automatic right to stand under Labour Party rules or whether he will also need to secure 51 nominations from MPs and MEPs in order to get on the ballot paper," the BBC says.

Corbyn still enjoys the backing of ten of Britain's largest trade unions, who released a joint statement yesterday.

"Jeremy Corbyn is the democratically elected leader of our party who secured such a resounding mandate less than ten months ago under an electoral procedure fully supported by Labour MPs," it said.

"We urge all Labour MPs to abide by those procedures, and to respect the authority of the party's leader. The only party that can win for working people is a strong and united Labour party."


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